Playing with shape and forced focus

I chose to look at Dresden Codak – Dark Science #8, seen here.

Using irregular panels within his pages, Diaz forces the reader to spend more time looking at the area of the image he wants you to look at.

The panel I’ve focused on here is an irregular upside-down T shape.  In many ways it is the same shape and proportion as the subject’s, Kimiko’s, torso and hips. Diaz chose the shape of this panel very carefully, probably after deciding he wanted to feature a shot of her bare back in the overall page.

In doing this, the reader is almost memorized by the “shot” of her backside. I found my self looking at Kimiko and less able to figure out how to actually read the page.  After going back to Dark Science #1, which has much more regularly sized and shaped panels, going in an standard left to right order, and reading the pages between #1 and #8, I was able to read this page. It was only after becoming familiar with the characters, and their thought processes, that I was able to follow the logical train of thought in this piece.

I think that the progression from an orderly set of panels to this less orderly set is also a reflection of the way Kimiko thinks. As her world opens up in this new place, the panels which represent her thought open up too.

-Clayton Mathis


~ by Clayton Mathis on March 17, 2011.

One Response to “Playing with shape and forced focus”

  1. Clayton,

    I agree that is definitely an advantage of graphic fiction to be able to manipulate the reader’s attention purely in a structural fashion. It’s also significant that the order of the panels was so varied and “chaotic” when Kimiko herself now displays trans-human elements and should, intuitively, move more logically through thought patterns (like a computer). But what makes her an fascinating protagonist is her wild nature in a field so systematic as robotics.

    When your eye is immediately drawn to Kimiko (both from the shape of the outline and the subject…I mean, it IS a half naked girl), you adopt her mindset when you navigate through the page’s structure. Very interesting technique to empathize with a character and their thought processes.


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